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16 May 2014
Doc tweaks surgery, restores Milkha practice mate's sight

For four years, Commander Kehar Singh could barely see because no one dared to operate on his eyes. The man who had represented India in several veterans’ Olympics, practised with running legend Milkha Singh and led the Mumbai Hockey Association for 26 years had not only cataract — when the eye’s natural lens turn opaque — but also a severe breathing problem that prevented him from lying on his back for surgery.

But on May 9, the 81-years old former navy man’s right eye was operated on, thanks to a bit of innovation in the operation theatre of the Advanced Eye Hospital in Sanpada. While the patient was kept in an inclined position, the surgeon had to sit on a high stool and operate at a 60 degree angle. “I now have six by six vision in my right eye and can’t wait to get the second one operated,” Singh said.

Cornea surgeon Dr Vandana Jain, who operated on Singh, said he had narrowing of the air passage. He is suffering from a condition called tracheal stenosis where his main airway have become extremely narrow,” Jain said. Singh’s son Ranbir, with whom the octogenarian lives in Vashi, said his father had thrice before been primed for cataract surgery, but would get severely breathless in the OT and back out.

Singh had to undergo an emergency tracheostomy in 1966 after an accident. “Moreover, in 2010, he slipped into coma after undergoing a hip surgery,” Ranbir said. When the Singhs approached Dr Jain, she took up the challenge. “Although the actual surgery took less than 15 minutes, the preparation lasted two weeks,” she said.